THE BLOG

No Rules, April Fool's

04/02/2014 10:02 am ET | Updated Jun 02, 2014

Pranksters are everywhere this April Fool's Day. From BetaBrand and their clothes for cats, to SelfieBots, or AirBrB, companies are coming up with a myriad of ideas to have some fun on this day of forgiveness.

April Fool's is all in good fun, but important things are happening in the process: creative brainstorming.

When MadTV joked of the iPad, everyone thought it was a funny ploy- fast forward three years, and Apple was releasing the first generation of tablet computers. It just goes to show that you shouldn't discount some of the most oddball ideas because you could be overlooking what just might be the "next big thing."

Going through the creative process of brainstorming out-of-the-box ideas allows you to rid yourself and your team of the mundane tasks of the day to day. April Fool's gives us permission to be funny and take risks many companies might not do on any other day of the year. We become so systematic in the way we work we often overlook some of the best ideas and often don't offer a forum to share them. It's so easy to become myopic and focus on the job in front of us, we forget to take a step back and look at the situation through a different lens. Without rules however, there still needs to be a little structure. Here are my top three tips for a successful brainstorm:

1. One conversation at a time. The conversation needs a chance to build and you can't accomplish that if everyone is talking over everyone else. Designate a moderator and that person has the ability to guide the dynamic and assure everyone is heard.

2. There are no bad ideas. Everyone deserves the chance to have his or her idea heard regardless of how crazy or unrealistic it may seem. Abandon your reality filter for a bit; it may spark an idea of your own. Which leads to the next point...

3. Snowball. Build off the ideas of others. Whether it's a new product feature, or a pivot in strategy, sometimes the best ideas are collaborative.

There are no rules on April Fool's Day and we've seen some funny, some odd, and some downright head-scratching ideas on this "holiday." Whether it's April 1, or a monthly meeting when you throw the rules out the window, creative brainstorming might be one of the most important exercises in which a startup or seasoned enterprise partakes.

Do you have any ideas that started as a joke but transformed into something more tangible? Sound off in the comments below.

Here's a list of the best pranks we've seen:

From Google:
• The company claims to offer a service for Chrome that will translate websites into emoji.
• Newly announced product, Gmail Shelfie: a shareable selfie service.
• Google+ is being updated with a feature that has David Hasselhoff photobomb your pictures.

A Minnesota zoo has again set up four extra phone lines for Mr. Lion, Ms. Ella Fint, Mr. Wolf and Ms. Anna Conda.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory came up with the idea in response to a common prank where people leave trick messages for friends from people named things like Don Key and Sally Mander, then including the phone number for the local zoo.